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Fox Cook: This recipe will change your mind about fruitcake

Elaine Dyer adds walnuts her fruitcake batter made from recipe that
came from an old friend.  |  Judy Buchenot~For

Elaine Dyer adds walnuts to her fruitcake batter made from a recipe that came from an old friend. | Judy Buchenot~For The Beacon-News

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Barbara’s Fruitcake

3 cups flour

1-1/3 cups sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup orange juice

1 cup salad oil

4 large eggs

1/2 cup dark corn syrup

2 cups walnuts

1 cup cut up dates

2 cups cut up mixed candied fruit

2 cups raisins

Line two loaf pans with aluminum foil and then butter the foil.

Measure the first 10 ingredients into a large bowl. Beat for 30 seconds on low and then beat for 3 minutes on high, scraping bowl often. Stir in fruits and nuts. Divide between two pans and spread evenly.

Bake at 275 degrees for 2-1/2 to 3 hours until a cake tester inserted into the fruitcake comes out clean. If cake is browning too fast, cover with foil during the last hour of baking. Allow to cool in pan. When cool, wrap in clean foil and store at room temperature for two weeks. It can be served sooner, but flavors are better after aging.

If desired, make a hard sauce to serve with fruitcake. Bring 4 tablespoons of light corn syrup and four tablespoons of water to a rolling boil. Then cool to lukewarm. Pour lukewarm hard sauce over cake before serving.

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Updated: November 8, 2012 2:03PM

Montgomery resident Elaine Dyer says fruitcakes have been unfairly treated.

They are often the subject of jokes around the holidays because of their long shelf life. Comedian Johnny Carson reportedly once commented that there is really only one fruitcake that people just keep sending back and forth.

However, 67-year-old Dyer knows that a well-made fruitcake is a holiday treat. Many years ago when she lived on the East Coast, Dyer tasted a fruitcake made by a friend. She repeatedly asked for the recipe, and she finally got it — with the instructions to never share the recipe with anyone.

For many years, Dyer honored the request to keep the recipe secret. She made the fruitcake every Christmas, and it quickly became a family favorite. After she moved to the Midwest, her sisters and their families in the East still requested an annual fruitcake. Even though she had lost touch with her friend, she kept her promise to keep the recipe a secret. Instead of sending the recipe to her relatives, Dyer made the fruitcakes and shipped them out to the East Coast.

“It was getting expensive, though,” Dyer says.

Then about two years ago, one of Dyer’s sisters met her long-ago friend at a community event. The two then reconnected over email.

“I wrote back to Barbara and told her that, even though we hadn’t talked in years, I thought of her every time I made the fruitcake,” Dyer says. “She wrote back right away and asked if I still had the recipe. Somehow over the years, she had lost the recipe. She was so happy to find out that I still had it.”

Dyer sent her the recipe, and her friend was able to make her fruitcakes once again.

Dyer says the fruitcake improves in flavor after being stored for at least two weeks tightly wrapped in foil. Dyer’s husband, Allan, and her brother-in-law Stuart are believers in adding a little extra flavor to their fruitcakes.

“They would each have a fruitcake that they would doctor up,” she says.

“Each week, they would pour about a third of a cup of liquor on the fruitcake and allow it to soak in. They would then wrap it back up. Allan liked to use rum, and Stuart liked bourbon on his.”

After a few weeks of “doctoring,” the fruitcakes were very moist and rich with flavor.

“You can use any type of liquor you want,” Dyer says.

Dyer says people often tell her they don’t care for fruitcake.

“I serve it anyway, and the next thing I know, it is all gone,” she claims. “This fruitcake changes people’s minds about fruitcakes.”

The walnuts that go into the fruitcake can be chopped first, but Dyer prefers to keep them whole. The walnuts soften enough in the aging process so they slice easily.

Dyer is sharing her fruitcake recipe, since keeping it a secret could mean losing it forever — as her friend Barbara almost learned.

Know someone who really likes to cook and is good at it? Contact columnist Judy Buchenot at

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